|NCSA RECRUITING ARTICLES ARCHIVES - 2007|
|December 2007||November 2007||October 2007||September 2007|
|August 2007||July 2007||June 2007||May 2007|
What Every Student-Athlete Should Know After Receiving an Offer:
Most soccer players dream of the day when a college coach presents them with a scholarship offer. They take official and unofficial visits, meet with potential teammates, attend tournaments, camps, and showcases and meet with college coaches with one goal in mind - an offer. When the excitement wears down, they are often faced with a serious question - what happens now? Athletes now have to prepare for what to do when their dreams become a reality. Receiving an offer from a college coach is the first hurdle, but recruited student-athletes must understand how to respond once an offer is extended.
It can be very tough to make a final decision, especially when you are considering more than one college or university. If you are a senior, college coaches are beginning to wrap up their recruiting classes and when offers are extended, they will be accompanied by deadlines. If you are not ready to commit on the spot, inquiring about your coach's deadline is the first step. You need to know what kind of time you have to make a decision.
Next, make sure you understand the financial details and implications. If the coach offered you a scholarship, be sure you and your family are comfortable with the amount. If not, communicate your concerns to the coach. If no money was discussed, you can consider yourself a "recruited walk on" and it is critical to ask if you will definitely have a roster spot.
Your campus visit should be one of the keys in your decision making process. Now is a perfect time to review all aspects of your visit. Your future teammates will be your friends and family for the next four to five years, if not the rest of your life. Think about your experience and ask yourself if you felt truly comfortable with them and the coaches, if they were friendly and if you liked the coaches' approach to the sport. Most importantly, think about where and how you will fit on the team.
After all this homework and reflection, if you feel comfortable that this institution is your top choice, then you should seriously consider committing. However, if you are unsure, know your timeline and visit as many colleges/universities as you can. Talk with as many different coaches as possible (always telling them you have an offer) during that time period as well.
Although this can be a long and timely process, you should feel excited about narrowing down your college search and being so close to wrapping things up. It is important for every student-athlete to take the time to consider all aspects before making a final decision. Your experiences as a collegiate athlete and being part of a team will have a great impact throughout college and even after your days on the field.
Your Future In College Athletics: The importance of maintaining open communication lines with college coaches
All college coaches are allowed to send written recruiting materials, including hand written letters and personal emails, beginning September 1st of a student-athlete's Junior year. Division I coaches are permitted to call student-athletes once a week beginning July 1 after Junior year, and Division II coaches may call beginning June 15 after Junior year. This means that if you have completed your Junior year of high school, college coaches are currently allowed to call you directly.
Did you know that regardless of how old you are, all student-athletes can call college coaches any time? There are no NCAA restrictions on student-athletes contacting college coaches by phone. If a college coach gives you their phone number, do not waste any time and take advantage of the coach's invitation by initiating dialogue.
Before you call the coach, visit the college or university's website to learn some facts about the team. Does the institution offer your desired major? What are the graduation rates? What was the team's record last year? How many seniors will be graduating?
Make a list of all the colleges/universities you have been in contact with and rank them in order starting with your favorite school (based on what you know at this point) down to your least favorite school. Start by calling the coach at your least favorite school. You will probably be nervous when you talk to this coach however, by talking to a coach at your least favorite college/university, you will gain confidence for when you contact the coaches who are higher on your priority list.
Most likely, if you are calling a coach, you will get his or her voicemail. Practice leaving a message beforehand. You can even call yourself and leave a practice voicemail on your cell phone. If you do get a hold of a coach, make sure you take notes on the conversation. Also, keep a list of your top five questions to ask and make sure that these questions can not be answered by looking on the Web site. One of the purposes of a phone conversation is to learn more about that college/university and their soccer program, and to get answers to questions that you really want to know. You should also prepare to answer questions from a coach. Some sample questions they may ask you are: "How was your soccer season?", "What other colleges are you looking at?" and "What do you consider to be your strengths/weaknesses?"
It does not matter if you are a Freshman, Sophomore, Junior or Senior; if you want to play college soccer it is time to start calling coaches! Do not be nervous; coaches like student-athletes who take initiative and are proactive in the recruiting process. Good luck!
How to Score Financial Assistance at Division III Colleges
It is a common misconception that Division III colleges do not award scholarships. They simply do not offer athletic scholarships. Some parents are weary about pursuing private out-of-state Division III institutions because of the sticker price. Do not think that just because a college costs $40,000 or more per year that you can not afford to attend. The cost of college all comes down to your ultimate out of pocket cost, which is not necessarily the tuition price inside the college catalogue.
Although Division III institutions do not offer athletic scholarships, there are definite avenues to receive financial assistance.
The first step is to fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at www.fafsa.org. The biggest mistake a lot of families make is not filling the FAFSA out because they think their family income is too high. This could not be further from the truth. Every family, regardless of income, has an EFC (estimated family contribution) number and the LOWER your EFC, the more aid you will receive. Even if you may not receive a significant amount of financial aid, you should still complete the FAFSA because it can act as an insurance policy for your son/daughter's education. If there is a change or loss of income or an emergency in your family; you will not be eligible for college funds if you do not complete the FAFSA on an annual basis.
The first date you may submit the FAFSA is January 1 of senior year. Submit the FAFSAS on this date or as soon after as possible! University financial aid budgets are limited and are awarded on a first come first serve basis, so the earlier you submit your FAFSA, the better your chances of receiving aid. Each college/university has a specific deadline and at a certain point, the money does run out.
Colleges have "pots," so to speak, of money they can dip into for students that qualify (especially athletes). These "pots" are not listed in brochures, and therefore a lot of families do not realize they exist. For example, some colleges have pots that the financial aid staff can dip into for students who are "journalism majors from Wisconsin," or for students who have a "3.75 GPA and 1100 SAT and want to major in physical therapy."
Ask the coaching staff and admissions office what avenues are available to build an obtainable financial package. Here are some key points to discuss and ask what, if any of these you can apply for:
-Academic based scholarships - Are you eligible based on your GPA and test scores.
-Title IV Funds - These are federal funds such as loans, work study.
-Grants - These are state, federal or university based funds that a student is not required to pay back.
It is amazing the money that comes out of the woodworks when student-athletes are pro-active.
As a Soccer Recruiting Coach at the National Collegiate Scouting Association, I speak with high school student-athletes on a daily basis about everything from increasing ACT/SAT scores to scheduling unofficial visits. One of the most common questions from upperclassmen is, "Is it too late for me to get recruited to play in college?" The answer to this question varies upon each student-athlete's expectations and goals but it's never too late to get started.
If your ultimate goal is to play at the Division I level, it is important to acknowledge that Division I programs can be broken down into two tiers. Top tier Division I programs are on the fast track for recruiting. These colleges/universities perennially finish in the top 25 in the nation such as University of North Carolina, University of California - Santa Clara and University of Portland. These soccer programs begin recruiting student-athletes who are as young as freshman in high school. By the time these student-athletes reach their junior year, they are in constant contact with the coaches and in many cases have already taken unofficial visits. Tier I, Division I programs receive verbal commitments from their incoming recruiting class by the summer before their senior year.
The rest of Division I programs are on a timetable that is a little slower and longer. The majority of all Division I colleges/universities will fill their recruiting class needs by early fall of that class's senior year. This means that if you are a Division I soccer player, you have already visited that campus, sat down with the coach and know where you stand on their recruiting list by your first day of class senior year.
The early commitment trend is becoming increasingly prevalent at the Division I level. This only increases the amount of time and research that must be put into recruiting on the student-athlete's end.
Division II colleges/universities are typically the next to finish up their recruiting classes. Some Division II colleges/universities will have prospects verbally commit during the summer, but most will finish during the fall and into the winter of their senior class.
Division III, NAIA and Junior Colleges recruiting typically continues into the winter and spring of a student-athlete's senior year of high school. If you are not on track with this timeline, do not panic, these are general guidelines and every college/university has a different situation.
The Clock is Ticking on the Recruiting Timeline
The recruiting process can be difficult to navigate for those student-athletes who do not understand the rules, timelines and guidelines. Knowing what to do and when to do it are the keys to a successful recruiting experience. There are several dates throughout a student-athlete's high school career that are critical to the recruiting process.
As an underclassman (freshman/sophomore), students are allowed to receive limited types of correspondence from college coaches. Division I and II coaches may only send questionnaires, camp brochures and general admissions materials. Division III and NAIA coaches may send more personal letters and emails, however many Division III and NAIA coaches abide by the Division I rules. Despite the limitations placed upon college coaches, this does not mean that student-athletes should be inactive as underclassmen.
Recruits can personally make contact with a college coach by calling or emailing them. Students should let coaches know that they are interested in their soccer program, even when they are not allowed to respond. Student-athletes can also provide coaches with their tournament schedules. Prospective college athletes should try to get as much exposure as possible by notifying as many coaches as possible where they will be playing in high school. Coaches are able to watch underclassman play and evaluate them, even if they are not allowed to make personal contact.
September 1 of a student-athlete's junior year of high school marks the first date that they may receive specific recruiting materials, including personal emails and letters. NCSA encourages student-athletes to reply to every letter and questionnaire as this is a great way to initiate dialogue with prospective college coaches. At this point, coaches can respond to high school athletes, so this is the chance to ask questions about the college/university and soccer program.
Starting June 15 of a recruit's junior year of high school, Division II coaches may call them personally one time per week. Division I college coaches may also start to call once per week after July 1 of the same year. Once again, Division III and NAIA coaches do not have specific regulations for phone calls, but many tend to follow Division I guidelines.
Official visits are typically offered to top recruits only, and recruits can start to take official visits on the first day of classes their senior year of high school. All student-athletes can only take a total of five official visits to Division I and II colleges/universities, but they may take an unlimited number of unofficial visits at any time. This means that at any time during an athlete's high school career (freshman through senior year) they may visit a college or university at
their expense an unlimited number of times.
Knowing the recruiting timeline is half of the battle in the recruiting game. By using proactive communication via email, phone and in person, recruits will know which college coach is truly interested in their potential and which college/university is a fit. Whether an athlete is a freshman or a senior, it is never too late to look towards a college career.
Finding the Best College For Your College Experience:
• Why responding to all college coaches is important
Most prospective student-athletes will receive some contact from colleges/universities, in the form of general admissions information, questionnaires, and/or emails from college coaches. If you are receiving similar information, you may have mixed feelings about the colleges/universities you are hearing from. Many student-athletes make the mistake of disregarding correspondence from colleges and coaches they are not initially interested in. In reality, no college contact should be neglected! The following is a list of reasons why you should respond to EVERYONE:
- If you are receiving general admissions information, especially if you are an underclassman - respond anyway! A lot of coaches put underclassmen's names on admissions lists to see if they will respond.
- If you do not respond to a coach, or return their questionnaire, they will stop recruiting you.
- Your opinion may change. Once you research a college and talk to a coach, you are bound to learn something new. You never know which college or program might be the perfect fit for you.
- The more coaches you communicate with, the more familiar you will become with the types of questions college coaches ask. This practice will prepare you for email exchanges and conversation with coaches at your favorite colleges/universities.
- By investigating many different types of colleges, you will have a better idea of your likes and dislikes in a college/university.
- College coaches change jobs! You might ignore a coach because you are not interested their program, only to have them get hired at one of your top choices.
- College coaches are friends with one another, and they do not appreciate it when a student-athlete ignores a contact. You never want to give anyone something bad to say about you!
- It is just common courtesy. If a coach takes the time to send you some information, you owe them a response.
- Responding to a college coach will demonstrate that you are mature and responsible. For example, most of the information asked on the questionnaire is to test your responsibility and ability to follow directions, and to see if you are interested in the college/university.
Remember, it will only take a little bit of your time, and will definitely be worth it if you are keeping in touch with every college/university that you hear from. Who knows - it may even be the one you decide upon!
The Importance of Unofficial Visits
The summer months are traditionally a good time to blow off a little steam, but for college bound student-athletes these months are a prime opportunity to tour college campuses and schedule unofficial visits.
It is often difficult to schedule unofficial visits during the school year when student-athletes are burdened with academics, soccer schedules, and other sports/activities. During the summer there is typically more down time which makes it easier to visit college campuses. Any visit which is not paid for by the college or university is considered an unofficial visit. Familiarize yourself with this terminology and incorporate it into your dialogue with college coaches.
Do not limit your visits to one type of college or university. Exposure to various types of campuses (big, small, urban, rural, Division I, II, III and NAIA, for example) will prepare you for when you ultimately have to narrow down your list of preferences.
In addition to touring the campus and buying a t-shirt, always contact the soccer coach well in advance to arrange a meeting. Inform the coach that you are planning an unofficial visit to his/her school and that you are wondering if he/she will be available to meet with you. College coaches are usually very accommodating and are eager to speak with interested student-athletes and their parents. If a coach has yet to see you play in person, try to provide him/her with some video prior to your
visit. During an unofficial visit, a student-athlete and his/her parent(s) will typically sit down and talk with the coach and tour the athletic facilities. If a coach has seen the athlete compete, he/she may offer feedback regarding their level of interest. Prepare some questions to ask the coach before your visit. Keep in mind that the coach wants to hear from you, the athlete, not just your parents!
By initiating contact with the soccer coach in advance, you allow yourself to maximize your time spent on campus. When you get home, be sure follow up by sending the coach a personalized thank you note. It is now your responsibility to continue correspondence with the coach in order to maintain a relationship for the duration of your high school career.
Q & A With Former Michigan State University Center Midfielder Adrienne Treado
"My Recruiting Experience and What I Would Change"
No matter what your level of play or year in school, you can never start too early or get too much help in the recruiting process. The most effective student athletes who play in college adhere to some of the following tips:
- Your recruiting process begins the moment you enter high school
- Focus on community, academics and athletics during every year of high school
- Respond to all college coaches who contact you
- Set up official and un-official college visits
Former Michigan State University Center Midfielder, Adrienne Treado, is familiar with the complexities of the college recruiting process. Treado helps high school soccer players across the country get noticed by college coaches.
Treado played soccer for MSU from 2001-2004. Treado is now a Recruiting Coach with the National Collegiate Scouting Association and works primarily with soccer student-athletes
NCSA: First of all, describe to us what kind of a player you were in high school - at what levels did you play?
Treado: I was on my state (Michigan) ODP team and at Regional Camp (Region II) I was usually in my State Pool. I started on my high school's varsity team since my first game as a freshman and was on the Michigan State Dream Team as a senior. My club team was five-time state champions and I was State Cup MVP my senior year.
NCSA: What were your goals for playing at the next level?
Treado: I would accept nothing less than a top Division I program - Big Ten preferably.
NCSA: So, it sounds like you were a pretty strong player, and had a lot of contact from your top schools of interest. Did you have to do a lot in the recruitment process?
Treado: Well, I didn't think so. I sent out a profile to about five Big Ten schools only once. I then ignored the contacts I was getting from smaller schools. I thought that the schools would come to me. I thought that since I was good enough they would find me.
NCSA: Did schools come to you?
Treado: No. I had minimal contact from the DI programs that I was interested in. The serious contact interest I received was from just a handful of lower level DI coaches, Division II and Division III programs.
NCSA: So how did you end up accepting an offer from Michigan State?
Treado: Michigan State was the only school that offered me money - about 30% of my tuition. I had no clue how to keep up relationships with other coaches so I could build leverage for myself and receive more offers.
NCSA: Knowing what you know now, is there anything you would have changed in your recruitment process?
Treado: I wish someone was there to help me realize that I wasn't a top prospect. I needed to be told how to market myself - sending out information to five schools only one time didn't cut it. I had no clue how to talk with or maximize coach's interest. I didn't know the first thing about what questions to ask or how to build leverage. I didn't know that I could call coaches at any time, or that I needed to get started as early as my 8th grade year. Basically I knew nothing about recruiting and the offers and interest I received reflected that.
NCSA: What advice would you give to a student-athlete who is going through the recruiting process right now?
Treado: The number one thing is to be educated and proactive. Know the rules, but especially know the realities so you aren't in the same situation as I was with really only one option. Be practical and realize that if you aren't receiving steady contact from the beginning of high school on, you aren't a top prospect and you need to work at getting exposure.